Food for thought – foods to improve your mood

Being hungry is enough to put anyone in a bad mood. The word ‘hangry’ (i.e. being hungry and angry) is even being recognised now in dictionaries around the world.

Luckily, it’s easy to boost your mood and cure your hunger at the same time. The right foods can give your brain nutrients to work at its best and to improve your mental health.

Here, with the help of nutrition and food guru Dr Joanna McMillan, we’re going to look at seven foods to help boost your mood to help you stay happier for longer.

1. Oily fish

By now, you may have heard that fish is good for the brain. From the countless types to the more specific trends like fish oil tablets, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to fish.

But why exactly is fish so good? It mostly boils down to one thing – omega-3 fatty acids, and as it turns out, fish have a lot of them.

According to Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, omega-3 plays a vital role in many aspects of health, including brain function, growth and development.

If you’re looking for some oily fish to start with, we suggest salmon, tuna, mackerel or herring.

2. Oats

Oats are another great mood-lifter. Being low GI, they break down slowly and release glucose gradually into the bloodstream as a result. This means that you’ll feel fuller for longer, with the slow release helping keep your blood sugar and mood in check.

To make it even easier for you, check out Joanna’s delicious Bircher muesli recipe.

3. Chicken

One of the world’s most popular meats, chicken is a great way of making sure you quell your hunger the right way.

Full of tryptophan – an amino acid that produces serotonin – chicken is even better at boosting your mood when low GI carbohydrates, such as whole grains and legumes, are consumed alongside it.

4. Dark chocolate

Chocolate lovers rejoice, there’s now a reason to treat yourself. Eating dark chocolate (in moderation) can help reduce the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones due to the antioxidants found within.

So if you were ever looking for an excuse to eat chocolate, we think you might’ve found one!

5. Greens

We all know we have to eat our greens, but here’s an even better reason to get your daily intake.

Research has found that certain deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to depression. Luckily, greens such as spinach, broccoli and edamame are rich in exactly that.

If you struggle to incorporate greens into your diet, why not try a green smoothie. In this easy, fresh recipe, Joanna recommends using celery, spinach and cucumber.

6. Nuts

Loaded with a range of minerals and vitamins, this is a great snack option to help to raise your mood. If we were to pick some good options to start with, we’d recommend walnuts, as they contain a rich amount of omega-3 fatty acids, and brazil nuts, which have been proven to reduce the effects of low mood, irritability, anxiety and fatigue.

7. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is full of probiotics, which are good bacteria that help keep your gut healthy.

Why is this important? The health of the gut can actually have direct effects on the brain and our mood.

And if you want to go a step further, add in some blueberries. According to Joanna, these are one of the richest sources of antioxidants which counteract the affect of free radicals found in our bodies.

Eat away your bad mood!

The beauty of this list is that all of these foods are not only great for boosting your mood, but are also great for your overall health. So whether you’re stressed, tired or just wanting to eat better, this list should have something to boost your hunger and mood all at once.